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Want to break up? Here's how
Bijoy Venugopal |
November 02, 2004
f you hang out here a lot, you must have already sniffed out the goody-goody bits on how to keep yourself dateable, how to keep your date happy, how to get her to jump into bed with you and how to keep your relationship warm.
And, when it all ends, how to mend your broken heart.
Hard as you may toil to pluralise (is there such a word?) your single status, something in the woodwork refuses to give in.
It's all about chemistry. Just when you think you have a spare electron itching to make a molecule, life harshly reminds you that you are destined to be a free radical for just a little longer.
How can you be graceful and dignified in such moments?
To remain a bachelor, breaking up is an elegant art you must practise to perfection, because it is likely to happen again. And again. And again.
You can't waste time crying over spilt milk when there are so many pints of beer to swill.
When all roads lead to Destination Dumpsville, don't sit back and enjoy the view. Take action. Your initiative could help save at least two lives -- yours and your partner's -- and lots of face.
Keep this checklist handy when you realise the time is ripe for breaking up.
Is your relationship on the rocks?
This question may not have the same glowing warmth as, 'Would you like your Jack Daniels on the rocks?' Nevertheless, consider it carefully.
Ask yourself the difficult questions you have been brushing aside:
~Have you always felt that you and your partner have tickets for different flights but have been thrown together by accident?
~Are you compromising on matters that are important to you?
~Is your lifestyle cramping her style?
~Do you think about other women when you make out?
~Is there absolutely no way to save your relationship?
~Will this drastic step set you, and her, free?
If your heart says so (sometimes your body doesn't, but we'll get to that later), dust that parachute and look longingly out the window. It's time for the drop, honey.
Take a long, deep breath.
Gearing up for the split
Take comfort. All things, however beautiful, are destined for a grand finale.
Sometimes, though, when things don't go up in smoke, they need a helping hand. Which is to say, when your relationship does not auto combust, make creative use of that cigarette lighter.
Take long walks. Condition your mind and body to accept the reality of being single again. It may be hard to imagine the lack of easy intimacy in your life simply because you got used to it. If people can quit smoking, why can't you kick a habit?
Imagine your phone book without her number. Imagine a whole day without a single SMS from her. Tell yourself you can handle it.
Think it through. Make sure you will have no regrets. No one is really good at this, so it pays to rehearse -- before a mirror, if you like -- what you are going to say and to anticipate her responses.
~Breaking up is hurtful enough, so weed out the nasty things you might feel like saying.
Dropping the bomb
Don't put your break-up message in a fortune cookie or in the classifieds where the rest of the world is likely to see it before she does.
Getting a skywriter is okay for courtship messages but putting out a relationship calls for discretion and sensitivity.
Be personal and don't procrastinate.
Most important, let her be the first to know.
Choose your location
This is a little tricky. If your decision is likely to surprise her, don't spill it at your favourite adda where the waiters know you by name and the bartender pours you free martinis.
Find a quiet place -- a mutual friend's backyard, the seaside or a park.
Your place or hers could have memories in every corner -- photographs, birthday cards or one of those ugly stuffed toys -- and that's likely to make it harder for both of you.
Spare her the history, she already knows it
Avoid the lengthy preamble on the course your relationship has taken. There is a tendency to do that.
Remember, this is not about saving face. It's about communicating a decision. It is dirty work. Stay focused.
Be ready for the waterworks
She's going to cry, and not because she's glad to get rid of a jerk like you.
Carry an extra handkerchief (my best friend's dad said: one for show, one for blow).
Be sensitive but tough.
Guilt edges a golden heart
I have always wondered how an executioner sleeps well. Until I met one who reeked of cheap booze.
But you don't have to send your liver to hell for taking an important decision.
Fill your time with hobbies and supportive, well-meaning friends. Immerse yourself in work and pull off some surprises to prop up your self-esteem.
Space, the final frontier
If you and your ex (ah, how sweet the sound!) were part of a close circle of friends, you may run into her again. You may still be fond of her, and you may feel the urge to check on her to see if she's all right. You may feel the occasional pang when you see her cuddling up to someone else.
Steel yourself. Stay away. Spare her the advice.
She can take care of herself. With space, you will let her move on with her life and get on with yours.
The road ahead
You will be surprised at how the biological changes kick in. Your hormones will start to buzz again. You will soon be looking at other women.
Life will be good again and the gulab jamuns sweeter.
One day she will call and, choking with gratitude, say: "Baby, thank you. If you hadn't set me free, I wouldn't have met and married Mr Right."
Your eyes may fill up, your nostrils may quiver, your hair may stand on end and a scream, rich and full, may build up in your throat.
Relax! Regulate your breathing. Think about butterscotch ice cream. This, too, shall pass.
Before you realise it, you will be glowing with pride and satisfaction for having taken a brave, timely and irreversible decision. Get someone to ring the Vatican and block a date for your beatification.
And, hey, time to thumb through that old phonebook.
Got some nifty tips of your own? Share them with us!
Check out Bijoy's earlier column!
The bachelor's guide to smart eating
Illustation: Uttam Ghosh